There are several cases which are reported as suicides, and culprits go scot free

Karnatakas honour killings women are murdered but no convictions
news Wednesday, April 06, 2016 - 20:29

In 2011, a man named Ramakrishna and his nephews Ramanna and Timmesh Lallegowda allegedly killed Suvarna. Ramakrishna was angered that she was in love with a Dalit man of their village of Abalavadi, Mandya district. Over five years later, conviction seems to be a far-fetched idea.

This is the story of practically any man or woman suspected to have killed a woman of their family for being in love with a Dalit man.

Quoting figures from the State Crime Records Bureau, The Hindu reported that there have been 10 suspected honour killings in Karnataka since 2011.

Mandya has recorded three cases and Ramanagara district with 2 cases, Anekal,HesaraghattaDharwad , Mysuru and Hassan have record one case each. A total of 13 people, including a four-month-old baby, were killed.

However, all of these cases remain suspected honour killings, because there has been no conviction.

The reasons for this are not hard to imagine. In several of these cases, media reports and studies by activists show efforts were made to make the death look like a suicide, or to pin blame on the Dalit man’s family.

Nineteen-year-old Monica’s death some days ago, also points to this. Mandya SP had told The News Minute that her father and her maternal uncle had confessed that they hanged the body from a tree after killing her.

HV Vasu, a member of Karnataka Jana Shakti (KJS), who is pursuing the legal battle with Suvarna’s killing, said that there were attempts to pin the blame on Suvarna’s partner Govindaraju.

“Suvarna was murdered and hanged by her parents at her lover’s house so that it appeared as if the boy’s family had committed the crime,” he said. Govindaraju and some of his family members too had been assaulted.

“The communities use their influence to suppress the issue. Most of them get out on bail after serving 7-8 months as the police find it difficult to find any proof. Most deaths are reported as suicide,” said Vasu.

Even when the partner of the murdered woman is wishes to give a statement to the police, he would be discouraged, says Mallige, also a member of KJS. The line of argument from the girl’s family would be that no harm was brought upon the survivor’s family, and that it was “their girl” who had died. “That is precisely what happened in the Abalavadi case,” she says.

Police support and evidence

In some cases, the police too tacitly support the girl’s family. “Willingly or unwillingly, police heed the more influential community as they face pressure from them. Because at the end of the day, when they take off their uniform, they have to live in the same society,” said Guruprasad.

Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women Manjula Manasa too appears to think so. In a letter Home Minister G Parameshwara, castigated the district police.

“(We wonder whether) Her life could have been saved had the police sent Monica to a Swadhara Kendra run by the Women and Child Development department. We are beginning to think that the failure the police in acting sensitively may have perhaps paved the way for her murder,” Manjula said in the letter.

Manjula said that when she visited the site, she found that the police behaved in a negligent manner by not filing a suo-motu case after her death.

Guruprasad, who has protested against caste atrocities cases including the Abalavadi case said that even if the police register a case, convictions are very difficult as there would be no one to appear as witness.

“Most of these cases do not surface because it is done in the presence of family or the evidences are washed away. Even one or two clues don’t make for a concrete evidence enough for conviction,” he said.

Attitudes

Even if couples are not killed or harmed physically, surviving social pressure is a daunting battle, one that has to be fought every day, says Guruprasad Kerud, Karnataka state convenor of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti.

“People tend to look down upon families of girls who have fallen in love or eloped with a boy of a different caste. Facing society becomes a tormenting affair as the whole family is treated like an outcast, especially when they have such a girl living at home,” says Guruprasad.

Vasu echoes his views. After Suvarna’s death in 2011, KJS members had interacted with college students on the subject. To their surprise, some girls felt what she had done was wrong.

“Although they were against killing Suvarna, they said that such girls must be severely punished as they brought disrepute to the family honour. If this what is ingrained in the teenagers’ psyche, how can anything change?” asked Vasu.

 

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